House Foods’ Go Umami baked tofu bars offer plant-based alternative to meat bars

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

House Foods’ Go Umami tofu bars offer plant-based option to meat bars

Related tags Tofu

As the plant-based movement marches on, alternatives to animal-based products are starting to show up in some unexpected places -- most recently as substitutes in the burgeoning meat bar category.

House Foods’ October launch of Go Umami bars made from baked non-GMO tofu gives consumers a vegan alternative to the increasingly popular meat bars that are taking the industry by storm.

Just like their animal counterparts, the new bars are packed with protein, promising 5 grams per 1-ounce bar, and target on-the-go professionals, athletes and young adults. The bars also are aimed at consumers who want an easy, better-for-you snack that is a savory, natural alternative to the many sweet protein- and nutrition bars on the market, which often are filled with difficult to pronounce ingredients that turn off modern consumers.

Building the refrigerated bar segment

Because the bars have shorter, cleaner ingredient decks than many competing nutrition bars, they rely on refrigeration to extend shelf life. This might be a drawback compared to many of the meat bars currently available which are shelf stable, but a representative for the company doesn’t see this as a problem.

Matthew Andrews, a sales representative for House Foods America, told FoodNavigator-USA at SOHO Expo in Florida earlier this month that retailers are building up the refrigerated snack bar segment so that the concept is becoming more familiar to consumers -- especially among those who want fresh products.

He added that the manufacturer of PerfectBars​, which are nut butter based refrigerated snack bars, has already done a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of developing a refrigerated bar category and introducing the category to retailers and consumers. 

While developing a new category, and convincing retailers to carve out space in an unexpected part of the store, can be tricky, Andrews adds that many stores are excited to see the refrigerated snack bar segment filling-out. Plus, he notes, consumers are used to looking for tofu products in the refrigerated dairy or produce section of the store, so there already is a steady stream of foot traffic, which can also help elevate the visibility of the new refrigerated bar category.

Introducing tofu to new consumers

In addition to targeting on-the-go shoppers who already are familiar with tofu and soy products, the bars are an easy introduction to consumers who haven’t tried tofu before, Andrews said.

He noted that the small packaged paired with the fact that consumers do not need to prepare the tofu -- which often involves sloshing water, pressing, marinating and then cooking -- make it an easy trial item.

“Because it is already baked, consumers can easily peel open the package and eat it like string cheese,”​ meat bars or meat sticks, with which they already are familiar, he said.

The playful, bright packaging also is welcoming to consumers new to tofu. Rather than featuring images of plants or plain block prints like many competing tofu products, the bars have stick figures playing with balls, lifting weights, riding bikes and climbing on the lettering.

The figures “showcase the outdoors, the on-the-go [consumer] and being out enjoying yourself in nature and having a snack that can go with you,”​ Andrews said.

Looking forward, Andrews sees a bright future for the first-of-its kind snack, noting how many trends it hits: snacking, on-the-go, protein and plant-based. All of which he sees remaining top consumer priorities for the next several years.

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